How research can contribute to transformative climate justice

Published on 16 July 2020

From forest fires in Australia and California to record floods in Jakarta and the UK, no area of the world is immune from the effects of climate change. A new report identifies gaps and future entry points for Southern-led research on climate justice.  It highlights three key thematic areas where research can make a difference – governance for climate justice, inclusive climate justice and deepening climate justice.

With the UN climate conference, COP 26, now postponed until 2021 and resources for climate action now competing with Covid-19, it’s vital that efforts ramp up to ensure that the global recovery is rooted in climate justice.

The reality of contemporary climate politics means that justice questions will play an increasingly important role not only in research, but in climate activism and policy including the realisation of the Sustainable Development Goals. As climate actions are scaled up, as well as bringing benefits for many, there will be opposition, dislocation, and disruption for some. This could particularly be the case for the poorest and most vulnerable unless care is taken to protect their interests. It is critical to ensure that transitions in the provision of food, transport and energy, and efforts to adapt to the effects of climate change, are socially just and transformative.

Scope for future research

The report is from the Institute of Development Studies and the University of Sussex and commissioned by the International Development Research Centre (IDRC). It suggests significant scope for future research to improve the understanding of the tools and processes by which we can anticipate, better manage and avoid situations in which the poorest in society bear the brunt of responses to climate change and the transition to low-carbon economies.

Best ways to prevent and contest injustices

As well as the thematic areas for potential Southern-led research, the study also highlights that rather than more place-based climate justice research, future studies should focus on the underlying drivers of injustice and the most effective ways of preventing and contesting those injustices. This means identifying the best combination of strategies, for example state-based, legal, financial or activist-based, for addressing injustices and sharing those findings through toolkits, videos or shared web platforms to support civil society organisations working to tackle climate injustice in their local context.

Understanding climate justice matters

There is an important opportunity for funders to showcase new ways of financing and developing creative institutional designs. They should include affected groups in the design and delivery of response measures, and that reduce or manage uneven exposure to the effects of climate change.

Furthering the understanding of climate justice matters because it has serious implications for those countries, regions and communities on the front line of the impacts of climate change on our planet.

Read the full report: Towards Transformative Climate Justice: Key Challenges and Future Directions for Research


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